Wedding traditions

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…

This saying dates back to Victorian times and the full version is ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in her shoe’

Something old

Represents the link with the bride’s family and the past. A common solution many brides choose is to wear a piece of family jewellery or their mother’s or grandmother’s wedding dress.

Something new

Represents good fortune and success in the bride’s new life. The wedding dress is often chosen as the new item.

Something borrowed

To remind the bride that friends and family will be there for her when help is needed. The borrowed object might be something such as a lace handkerchief or an item of jewellery.

Something blue

Symbolises faithfulness and loyalty and dates back to biblical times when blue represented purity. Frequently the bride’s garter is the blue item.

A silver sixpence in her shoe

To wish the bride financial wealth and happiness.

Traditions for the bride

Wedding veil

The wedding veil hides the bride’s beauty and wards off evil spirits. Another explanation is that during the times of arranged marriages the bride’s face would be covered until the groom had committed to the marriage.

Wedding flowers

Before the use of flowers in the bridal bouquet, women carried aromatic bunches of garlic, herbs, and grains to drive evil spirits away as they walked down the aisle. Over time, these were replaced with flowers, symbolizing fertility and everlasting love.

Throwing the bouquet

The tradition of throwing the bouquet began in America and it is said that whoever catches the bouquet will be next to be married.

Wearing pearls

To some, pearls represent future tears and are a bad sign. However, to others, the wearing of pearls takes the place of the bride’s real tears, thus she’ll have a happy, tear-free wedded life.

Wearing a white wedding dress

The white wedding dress as we recognise it today is a tradition started by Queen Victoria, who wore white to her own wedding to Albert of Saxe-Colburg in 1840. White wedding gowns, worn as a token of the bride’s purity and innocence, were worn by royalty and the wealthy long before then.

Being given away

Giving away the bride is a tradition from the days when women were their father’s property until they got married and became their husband’s property. The bride was literally given away in exchange for a bride price or dowry!


The bridal party is a tradition that has been established for many centuries. For a long time, the purpose of the bridal party was to fool evil spirits. The bride’s friends dressed similarly to her in order to confuse any virulent presences that might be lurking about. Today, bridesmaids are there to support the bride before and during the wedding.

Traditions for the groom

The best man

In ancient times, men sometimes captured women to make them their brides. A man would take along his strongest and most trusted friend to help him fight resistance from the woman’s family. This friend, therefore, was considered the best man among his friends.

The threshold

Carrying the bride over the threshold protects her from any evil spirits that may be lurking in the new home.

Seeing the bride

It is good luck for the groom not to see the dress before the wedding day. It will bring more luck if he does not glance at the dress as the bride walks down the aisle.

Where to stand

The groom stands on the right of the bride during the marriage ceremony to allow his sword arm to be free ready to fight off other men who may want her as their bride.

Other traditions

Shoes tied to the bumper of the car

Brides’ shoes once were considered to be symbols of authority and possession. They used to be taken from her when she was led to the wedding place and given to the groom by her father, affecting the transfer of his authority to her husband and as a sign that the husband now had possession of her (and she couldn’t run away). The new husband then tapped her on the head to show his new role as her master.

The ring finger

All wedding and engagement rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. The vein in this finger was once believed (by ancient Romans) to go directly to the heart.

Cutting of the cake

Cake cutting symbolises the first meal for the newlywed couple; the couple often make a toast at the time of the cake cutting. The cake cutting is also a signal letting friends and family know the wedding is over and it’s now time to start the reception.


The tradition of giving guests something to remember the day by in the form of favours has been around for hundreds of years. Today, the tradition has evolved to giving each guest five sugar coated almonds to symbolise health, wealth, fertility, happiness and long-life.

First dance

The 'first dance' of a married couple is a popular element at wedding receptions or post-wedding celebrations in modern European and American traditions. Exactly like an old-fashioned ball, the idea is that the married couple, as the guests of honour at a dance, open the dancing.